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    Brev’s First Tournament Was All About Having Fun

    Brev’s First Tournament Was All About Having Fun

    I’m really lucky to be the father of two sons, Brevyn and Brooks. They’re cool little dudes. And it’s great because right now my oldest boy, Brev, who’s 7, is into a lot of the same things I was into when I was a kid. He rides dirt bikes. He does karate. He likes to fish.
    Actually, we fished our first tournament together the other day. It was part of an adult-junior trail at Lake Secession, which is right down the road from our house. It’s a lake that I actually grew up fishing as a kid, and our family has a lot of history there. My dad has two bass over 10 pounds from this lake on his wall, and my personal best came from there. Back when I was a kid, my dad would pick me up from school, and we’d go to Secession for a few hours before dark. It's a special place for us, and I’m proud that Brev and I got to fish our first tournament together on that lake.
    Dude, it was so wild. I kept having this thought, like, who could have predicted, back when I was 10 years old fishing with Pops on that lake, that one day I’d be fishing those same stretches of bank with my son? It was kind of an awkward feeling, seeing my little boy in the back of my boat, just like I was in the back of my dad’s boat all those years ago.
    Brev did really good, too. I think he enjoyed the experience. I was kind of worried because we’re “late morning people” in our house. We like to get up at about 11 o’clock on weekends, but he was up at 5 in the morning, ready to go. I didn’t have to beg him to get out of bed. He picked his lures out all day, too.
    Fishing was kind of tough. It was one of those days when there are just no easy fish, but he stuck with it all day. He never lost his fervor. He was casting and switching up baits, tying on different stuff all day. I was real proud of him. The tournament had a three-fish limit, and we had three for 9.30-something, which got us fifth out of 15 boats.
    But where we finished doesn’t really matter. That’s not why we fished it together.
    When I talk about taking Brev fishing, I think people probably assume that I want him to follow in my footsteps and pursue a career as a professional bass angler. Here’s the truth: That’s not even remotely on my mind right now. Honestly, he’s just a kid. I’m just trying to expose him to as much as I can because he has a long time to find out what he likes to do.
    He really liked the tournament. He’s been talking about it a little bit since then. I’m 100 percent sure we’re going to do it again. But right now, I don’t think he’s anywhere close to the level of infatuation that I had with fishing at that age. I’m OK with that because there are so many things that he’s going to get from fishing other than a future career as a tournament fisherman. I’m not in this to try and win tournaments with my son or coach him into some beast of an angler anyway.
    If a time comes when I see him losing sleep over what crankbait to throw and showing the same level of passion for it that I have, then we’ll talk about it. Right now, in some kind of weird way, it’s somewhat of a relief that he’s not there yet. That kind of passion for it is hard to manage – I know.  
    For all you parents out there in a similar place, don’t forget that taking your kids fishing isn’t just about getting your kid to the junior nationals or trying to land them some pro-staff deal. Fishing is much deeper than just tournament fishing. It’s a much bigger picture. Every kid isn’t going to be a pro tournament fisherman, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take them or they can’t still love it. Don’t push so hard. Don’t get too tied up in their success.
    Brev, he’s a people person. I’ve never met a 7-year-old that’s as much of a people person as him. His favorite part about tournaments is meeting up with other kids around the boats in the morning and talking to people at weigh-in. You can tell that’s his thing. I could see him working in the fishing industry, not as a bass pro, but doing something else just because it’s such a people-oriented industry.
    Or, you know what? He might not. We’ll see.
    My parents didn’t pressure me into tournament fishing. I had the passion on my own, to the point that nothing could stop me, and I didn’t need them to push me. So I’m not pushing Brev.
    I’m just taking him fishing. I’m making memories. I’m getting ready for our next tournament together, because no matter how it all works out, the days we spend together fishing are special days for us. He’ll remember our first tournament, just like I remember fishing that lake with Pops. And that’s what really matters.

    Short-Term Practice, Long-Term Prep

    Short-Term Practice, Long-Term Prep

    I’m like a kid on Christmas Eve right now. After a crazy offseason that saw all kinds of changes in the bass fishing world, finally, we’re about to get this season started.

    It’s about dang time.

    Right now I’m in Florida practicing for the first Bassmaster Eastern Open on the Kissimmee Chain. If you know anything about Florida, you know what’s coming this week. I’m talking about Big Ole Bass getting ready to spawn. These Florida fish are super romantic about their spawn. They take their good old time. It’s not like it is in South Carolina where I live. The bass around my house will spawn out in about two weeks. It’s a rush job. But in Florida, they stretch it out. It’s on their mind for months. They wait around for perfect conditions – like the ones we’re supposed to have this week – and then they slide up there and do their thing.

    As far as practice goes, I’ve got an important strategy this year. There’s no limit to how long someone can practice in the Opens, but I’m only practicing about two and a half days. That’s the amount of time I’ll get to practice when I qualify for the Bassmaster Elite Series. It wouldn’t make much sense to go practice seven or eight days when I won’t get that much time once I qualify up. Instead, I’ll work on finding fish quickly.

    Two and a half days is plenty of time anyway, if you use the time right. I learned that on the FLW Tour, where we got three days to practice. If I can’t figure them out in that amount of time, I’m not figuring them out at all.

    Thankfully, I’ve got some history on the Kissimmee Chain to get me started. I’ve been there twice before. The biggest thing I’ve learned about fishing there, and in Florida in general, is that it’s very area driven. The fish use the same areas every year. They might move within those areas, but the areas they use are the same.

    I’ll spend a good chunk of my practice in places where I’ve found fish before, just trying to dial in the two or three things I have confidence doing in Florida. Confidence is big for me. At this point in my career, I know what works for me, and I know how I can be successful. I won’t bother worrying about anything else. If I can just get a few bites in an area, I’ll be confident I can figure them out in the tournament. Then I’ll go explore other areas nearby and prepare a rescue plan for possible weather changes.

    Most importantly, I won’t put too much pressure on myself. Pressure kills at this level. You have to avoid mental fatigue.

    If you fish tournaments, you know what I’m talking about. When you’re struggling, you start to have negative thoughts, and it starts to affect your decision-making. That’s mental fatigue.

    I’m pretty intense when I’m fishing, but if I feel that negativity creeping in, I’ll sit down and just scroll through social media for a few minutes to decompress. If I have to, I’ll come in early. That might surprise you, but it’s true. I used to think I had to fish from daylight to dark, and I wouldn’t even stop fishing long enough to talk to anyone during practice. But now, maybe because I’m older and I understand the game better, I recognize how important it is to avoid burnout.

    Staying in control of the mental side of fishing will be big for me this year because I’ll be dealing with a different kind of tournament. There’ll be 100 more boats on the water in some of the Opens compared to last season on the FLW Tour. Plus, we’ll have co-anglers. Trust me, I’m not knocking co-anglers at all. But it’s a different dynamic having all those extra boats and extra anglers on the water, especially in Florida, where we’ll all be sharing the best areas.

    The way I’ll stay in control is to focus on my process. That’s all I ever do. I’m not worried about where I finish in the standings, or what I have to do to make the Elite Series, because I don’t set results-oriented goals. I set process-oriented goals. You might not believe me, but I promise you that’s how I’ve always dealt with any sport I’ve competed in.

    My goal is to always get better at my craft – at catching fish. I want to get better at the process. I’m talking about making smart decisions when the weather changes, having my boat and tackle prepared, using my practice time wisely – stuff like that. I want to perfect all the little things that it takes to win, because that’s what I can control, and the little things have to go right for big things to happen. I promise you that’s the key to success.

    In the meantime, don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel to watch how I go about breaking down the Kissimmee Chain. The video should drop next week.